One killed in blast at chemical plant in China's Shandong; fire put out after 5 hours

An explosion hit a chemical plant on Saturday night in eastern China, the official Xinhua state news agency said, citing local authorities, killing one person. The blast, which triggered a fire, happened around 8.50pm local time in Huantai county in
An explosion hit a chemical plant on Saturday night in eastern China, the official Xinhua state news agency said, citing local authorities, killing one person. The blast, which triggered a fire, happened around 8.50pm local time in Huantai county in Shandong province. PHOTO: WEIBO

BEIJING (AFP/REUTERS) - An explosion at a chemical plant in east China late on Saturday killed one person and injured nine people, with 150 firefighters battling the resulting blaze, state media reported.

The blast comes after 121 people were killed in massive explosions earlier this month at a hazardous goods storage facility in the northern port city of Tianjin.

The incident on Saturday occurred at a plant in Huantai county near the city of Zibo in Shangdong province, Xinhua news agency said, citing the official Sina Weibo microblog account of the Zibo public security bureau.

The fire was extinguished early on Sunday, Xinhua reported, after about five hours.

 

The authorities said no contamination has been detected, Xinhua said.

Earlier, it said firefighters from neighbouring cities were heading to help tackle the blaze.

Some 150 fire fighters and 20 fire engines were sent to the scene.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Windows shattered in the village where the blast occurred, state media said, and tremors could be felt 2km away.

The explosion destroyed a factory belonging to Runxing Chemical, a subsidiary of Shandong's Runxing Group with 200 million yuan (S$44 million) in registered capital, Xinhua reported.

The factory produced adiponitrile, a colourless liquid that releases poisonous gases when it reacts with fire, according to Xinhua.

It also produces chemicals including adiponitrile, a combustible chemical mainly used in the production of nylon, Xinhua said.

The disaster is bound to raise more questions about safety standards in a country where industrial accidents are all too common following three decades of fast economic growth.

A blast at an auto parts factory killed 75 people a year ago.

On Aug 12, two explosions at a warehouse storing dangerous chemicals devastated an industrial park in the northeastern port city of Tianjin, killing at least 121 people, including 67 fire fighters. More than 700 people were injured and thousands were evacuated because of the risk posed by chemicals stored at the site.

In Tianjin, 54 people are still missing after the explosions, which sparked fears of toxic pollutants contaminating the air and water of the city, which has a population of around 15 million people.

Thousands of tonnes of hazardous chemicals were stored at the site, officials have said, including about 700 tonnes of highly poisonous sodium cyanide, a white powder or crystal which can give off lethal hydrogen cyanide gas.

The Ministry of Public Security, China's police, said in a statement posted on its website that investigations into the Tianjin blasts were continuing and more time was needed before any conclusions could be reached.

Public anger against the government has surged in Tianjin among residents of apartments near the blasts who believed the authorities neglected to police the firm, Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics, which owned the warehouse.